St John Paul II Catholic College was originally established as Terra Sancta College in 1996. It was founded as a result of the need identified by the local parish communities to establish a Catholic secondary school to serve the local parish communities as well as established Catholic primary schools of Mary Immaculate Quakers Hill, St Joseph’s Schofields and St John’s Riverstone. Initially the college was called Quakers Hill Catholic High School while a more suitable name was sought.
The naming of the college was a difficult decision. A number of choices that were debated and voted upon included:
- Julian Woods
- Dadirri - (deep spring-Spirit of God)
- Southern Cross
As the search for a name continued the committee laid down essential criteria for selection of a name:
- it would be linked with the Catholic tradition
- was distinctively Australian
Finally the name Terra Sancta College was adopted and much of the credit for this goes to the parish priest at the time, Fr. Eugene Stockton. “Terra Sancta” meaning latin for “sacred land”.
At the heart of the Schofields Campus is the gathering area and Cross of Christ from which flows the path through the campus and to the oval, signifying the journey passing through this land. The gathering area and cross have continued to be the focus of student life where assemblies, Transition Day functions, award ceremonies and Year 12 farewells continue as a part of the fabric of life at Terra Sancta.
In 1998 the first senior classes commenced at Nirimba Campus, lifting the total enrolment at the time to 680. The Nirimba Campus was designed to continue the education of the students in years 7-10 through to a senior environment with close educational ties and pathways with the University of Western Sydney and TAFE WSI. The environment of Nirimba closely resembles the physical environment with the Cross placed at the entrance of the campus in the path which through the site, also signifying the Way passing through this land.
Over the years building has continued as the college has grown with dedicated Year 7 buildings completed in 2006. In 2014 further works have seen the construction of a Stage Four Collaborative Learning Complex, the refurbishment of the Year 8 classroom block allowing collaborative and cooperative, as well as class learning. This allows the college to offer a very broad education that reflect the academic, social, physical and spiritual needs and interests of students.
In 2015, the College was renamed St John Paul II Catholic College to honour the canonisation of Pope John Paul II in 2014. Although the College now proudly presents themselves as St John Paul II Catholic College, the history and traditions of Terra Sancta College remain. The Schofields Campus Prayer Room was also renamed the Terra Sancta Prayer Room as a way to keep the history of the College present.
Currently two campuses are the home of more than 1100 students. Since inception over 5000 students have passed through this land.